Published: Mon, October 08, 2018
Science | By Michele Flores

SpaceX lands its first rocket on West Coast ground

SpaceX lands its first rocket on West Coast ground

After a trouble-free countdown, the two-stage rocket blasted off right on time at 7:21 p.m. PT from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base, leaving a post-sunset contrail glowing in the cloudless skies above.

Southern California residents are being warned to expect a large sonic boom Sunday evening as SpaceX launches a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, then attempts its first-ever landing on the West Coast, according to the company and military officials.

And, less than 8 minutes after liftoff, the booster's first stage came back to Earth for a pinpoint touchdown at SpaceX's Vandenberg landing zone, just a quarter-mile (400 meters) from its launch pad.

The 30th Space Wing says residents may see multiple engine burns by the first stage and there may be one or more sonic booms.

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SpaceX first started leasing the California landing space from the Air Force in 2015 but only recently received an approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to make a return landing of this sort, Wired reports. A sonic boom sounds like an explosion or thunder and is the result of shock waves from a vehicle traveling faster than sound.

The rocket, built by Elon Musk's SpaceX, was carrying the satellite SAOCOM 1A. It carries a high-resolution instrument called a synthetic aperature radar that will be used for emergency management and land monitoring.

It will be SpaceX's first time trying to land one of its reusable rockets on the West Coast.

SAOCOM 1B is planned to launch next year.

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